Home / Athletics /
Basketball / Lady Barons open play Thursday in NAIA tournament
Lady Barons open play Thursday in NAIA tournament
By Terry Gaston
BPC Public Relations
Four Brewton-Parker College seniors will be making their third appearance in the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship, this time hoping to make history as the first Lady Barons team to advance past the first round in four tries.
Brewton-Parker (25-8) qualified for the national tournament for the fourth time in six years and for the second consecutive year for the tournament at Oman Arena in Jackson, Tenn., whose 26th annual women’s edition begins Wednesday and concludes Tuesday, March 21.
The Lady Barons are the No. 5 seed in Quarter 2 and will play No. 4 Lewis-Clark State College of Lewiston, Idaho, on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. Central Time (1:30 p.m. Eastern Time).
“Everybody is excited and we have had really good practices,” Brewton-Parker head coach Sheila Simmons said of her team’s preparation since it learned of its at-large berth last Wednesday.
Simmons is in her third year at Brewton-Parker and her sixth year as a head coach, having reached the 20-win mark in all six years -- as has the Lady Barons program. She has a career record of 149-41 through the conference tournament. Simmons was at Brevard College (N.C.) her first three years (67-21) and was 25-8 in her first year and a school-record 32-4 in her second year at Brewton-Parker.
After their 32-win season in 2004-05, the Lady Barons matched the second-highest number of wins this season, first set in 2003-04. They have victories over NCAA Division II opponents Augusta State University and Elizabeth City State University (N.C.) and also swept the Southern States Athletic Conference season series from SSAC regular-season champion Lee University (Tenn.).
Four of the team’s seven seniors have been together since they were freshmen, and three (Ashley Little and Tamika Drinks-Holloway as juniors and Dannisha Winfrey as a senior but in her third year as a Lady Baron) have surpassed the 1,000-point mark. Those three and fellow senior Trivia Richardson have earned multiple All-Conference awards throughout their careers.
The balanced Brewton-Parker squad ranks No.1 in Division I in turnover margin (13.727), No. 3 in steals per game (15.606), No. 14 in scoring margin (11.879), No. 19 in scoring offense average (73.182) and No. 20 in 3-point field goals made per game (6.697).
Winfrey, a 5-foot-6 senior guard from Paterson, N.J., was the SSAC’s Player of the Year and a second-time selection to the All-Conference team. She entered the postseason tournament leading the Lady Barons in scoring with 17.4 points per game (522 with team-highs of 62 3-point baskets (39.5 percent), 152 of 187 free throws (81.3 percent), 145 steals (4.83 average) and 84 assists (2.80 average).
Winfrey’s steal average also leads Division I, her scoring average is No. 17, her 3-point field-goal percentage and free-throw percentage are both No. 18 respectively and her 3-pointers made per game of 2.067 ranks her 34th.
Drinks-Holloway, a 6-foot senior guard-forward from Mount Vernon, was a third-time All-Conference selection after she was second on the team in scoring with 13.4 points per game with a team-high 156 field goals. Drinks-Holloway’s 3.6 steals per contest ranks her No. 6 in NAIA I.
Her 291 rebounds gave her an average of 9.7 per game, good for ninth nationally along with a No. 8 rank in offensive rebounds with 4.0 per game and No. 19 in defensive rebounds (5.7 average). She recorded 13 double-doubles during the regular season. She also had 32 blocked shots before postseason play, with a No. 40 ranked average of 1.067.
Little, a 5-foot-4 junior guard from Lawrenceville, was a repeat All-Conference selection and qualified for the conference All-Academic Team for the third straight year as a mathematics major. She also made the conference's All-Freshman Team in 2002-03. As a senior, Little averaged 11.9 points, 2.77 assists and 1.9 steals, with her assist/turnover ratio of 1.804 ranking her at No. 19 in NAIA I.
Richardson, a 5-7 senior guard from Dublin, is a double major in biology and chemistry in earning her third conference All-Academic honor. On the court, she averaged 9.2 points, 2.77 assists and 2.1 steals during the regular season.
The Lady Barons, who finished second in both the conference regular-season standings and the postseason tournament, are one of four SSAC teams to qualify for the 32-team national tournament.
Lee is 26-6 and the No. 3 seed in Quarter 1 and plays Oklahoma Baptist University (23-9) in the tournament’s second game, Wednesday at 10:15 a.m.
Berry College (24-8), which defeated Brewton-Parker in the SSAC tournament championship game, is the No. 5 seed in Quarter 3 and faces 23-9 Azusa Pacific University (Calif.), the team that eliminated the Lady Barons in first-round play in 2005.
Auburn University Montgomery (Ala.) is 18-11 after losing to Brewton-Parker in the SSAC tournament semifinals, but the Lady Senators earned a No. 7 seed in Quarter 4 and plays in Wednesday’s late game at 9:45 p.m. against The Master’s College (Calif.), the No. 2 seed at 25-7.
“That speaks highly of the strength of our conference, and all four were in the Top 25 with three in the Top 20,” Simmons said of No. 7 Lee, No. 16 Brewton-Parker, No. 20 Berry and No. 25 AUM in the final ratings on March 1.
Lewis-Clark State (25-6) was ranked No. 9 and the regular-season runner-up in the Frontier Conference, which also has four representatives in the tournament field. The Warriors were defeated in the semifinals of their conference tournament, won by top seed University of Montana-Western (28-5), the No. 2 seed in Quarter 1.
Like Brewton-Parker, Lewis-Clark State returned a wealth of experience and also played in the 2005 national tournament, losing to eventual runner-up Oklahoma City University in the first round.
The Warriors have posted 15 consecutive seasons with 20-plus wins; five appearances in the last seven seasons in the Frontier Conference Championship game; and nine NAIA National Tournament trips in the previous 10 opportunities, with a semifinal finish in 2001.
Aundrea Morrison, a 6-foot junior post, leads the Warriors in scoring with 17.9 points per game, while 6-3 junior post Ashley Baker is next with 16.8 but hauls in 10.1 rebounds per contest.
“They are extremely big and physical, and the main thing for us is to get a feel for their style of play,” Simmons said. “They shoot the ball very well.”
The Lady Barons departed for Jackson on Monday, with the teams scheduled to participate in a Special Olympics event Tuesday and the annual Banquet of Champions on Tuesday night. All 32 team will participate in the Parade of Champions on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.